Activity descriptions for teaching geoscientific thinking
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Exploring the nature of geoscience using cartoon cards
Anne Egger, Central Washington University
In this activity, students work in groups to put a set of cartoon cards in order, much in the way that we might assemble a geologic history. The primary goal of the activity is to explore the nature of science in general and the nature of geoscience or historical science specifically, without requiring any content knowledge.
Analyzing your Hometown Stream using On-line USGS NWIS Data
Laurel Goodell, Department of Geosciences, Princeton UniversityThis page is a supplement to the original activity description found hereShort description of the activity:Students chose a stream of personal ...
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Investigating Stream Energy and Gradient Using Small Stream Tables
Beth Dushman, Howard Community College
In this Physical Geology lab activity, students investigate the relationship between stream energy and gradient by changing the gradient of a small stream table and observing changes in stream erosion.
Exploring Evidence of Plate Tectonics Using GeoMapApp
Sean Cornell, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
This activity requires students to explore a range of datasets that help substantiate Plate Tectonic Theory. Students investigate plate tectonic environments (convergent, divergent, transform boundaries), topography/bathymetry of continents and ocean basins, the distribution and pattern of earthquakes, the distribution of volcanoes, as well as ages of the sea-floor, and more.
Introduction to the methods of geoscience
Anne Egger, Central Washington University
In this activity, students are introduced to the methods of inquiry in the Earth sciences and how they differ from what is classically taught in school science.
The Cube Exercise and the Methods of Science
Barbara Bekken, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
A new approach to using an exercise from the National Academy of Science publication "Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science" to support students in developing a deeper understanding of descriptive methods, experimental methods, and methodological assumptions.
Sea Floor Magnetism
Kyle Gray, University of Northern Iowa
Students use compasses and bar magnets to simulate the collection of sea floor magnetic polarity data. Even though the students do not directly observe the magnets, they use the information to infer tectonic processes present at the mid-ocean ridges and calculate the spreading rates for two different ridges.
Transport of heavy metals in the Clark Fork River
Kathleen Harper, The University of Montana-Missoula
This is an activity about transport of sediment contaminated by copper, arsenic, and other heavy metals that was deposited into the Clark Fork River channel as the result of historical mining activity. The Clark Fork River between Butte and Milltown, Montana has been the focus of several large superfund projects designed to address the impacts of this legacy of mining in the watershed. This activity is used in an introductory physical geology lab (primarily non-majors) with students who may have limited experience working with quantitative analysis and analyzing graphs.
Evaluating the lines of evidence for plate tectonics
Becca Walker, Mt. San Antonio College
In this in-class exercise, students compare several lines of evidence that support the ideas of continental drift and plate tectonics. Before the class meeting, each student is given a preparation assignment in which he/she studies one "continental drift" and one "ocean floor data" map. In class, students divide into teams of 3, with each team member having prepared different specialties. They discuss their respective maps and look for spatial patterns among the data.
Calculating the radius of the Earth
Basil Tikoff, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Science students often have difficulty thinking about large spatial scales. The purpose of the exercise is to redo Eratosthenes' calculation of the radius of the Earth using data from to sites in ancient Egypt. The excercise teaches about the methodology of science - how Eratothenes figured it out - rather than worried about what the "right" answer is. It can also be used to discuss the role of models in geological thinking.